Theater For The New City Makes Art Accessible, Unveils Handicapped Accessible Elevator

Theater For The New City Makes Art Accessible, Unveils Handicapped Accessible Elevator

While Theater for the New City regularly celebrates show openings, it's gearing up for a special grand opening of its own: a handicapped accessible elevator.

The theater at 155 First Ave., between 9th and 10th Streets, on Sunday, May 27 at 2 p.m. is unveiling a new, state of the art, wheelchair accessible elevator as part of the Lower East Side Festival of the Arts.

TNC already offers plays and other performances at affordable ticket prices, typically $18 or less. The new elevator will provide a different type of access to the arts.

The elevator will serve TNC's fourth theater on the lower level as well as its costumes, props and mask collection, additional audience bathrooms and much used rehearsal room. It will also offer access to the theater's archives, awaiting on archivist.

TNC is billing this as a grand opening complete with ribbon cutting and champagne as the theater names the elevator The Gerald Rupp, after its largest individual donor, who will be present and take the first to ride.

"The elevator will support disabled individuals and the frail elderly, as part of Theater for the New City's push for complete diversity in audience, as well as, the stage," Crystal Field, executive artistic director, said.

The first 50 attendees will be able to follow suit and everyone attending will get a chance to test out the elevator's internal telephone.

Kitty Lunn, dancer, choreographer, director of Infinity Dance company for abled and disabled dancers will host the event. The Infinity Dance Company and Yip Harburg Foundation's Rainbow troupe will perform.

The contractor, Mamais, is a woman owned business. Both the engineer from RAND and Voula Mamais herself, will attend and speak.

"This will mean both new audiences and a large swath of theater artists for Theater for the New City," Field said.

While angels are nothing new to theater, this project has its own theatrical angels who will be honored.

A plaque will be hung on the elevator door thanking the New York State Council on the Arts for their gift of half the original funds for this accessible elevator, as well as Gerald Rupp, TNC's largest elevator donor, and the Dana and Christopher Reeve Foundation, which made the initial push to match NYSCA's original gift of $49,500.

"Gerald Rupp came through with a $10,000 gift that saw us through a major change order that could not be foreseen," Field said.

John Baccordo, who Field said "out of the blue put in a goodly sum to help finish the job," also will be honored with the plaque.

The names of all the handi-lift donors will be inscribed on the plaque, with a thank you to the many audience member donors whose names were never recorded, but who Field said "are the backbone of Theater for the New City."

"Theater should be accessible to all: emotionally, spiritually, physically, economically," Field said. "All hail an accessible Theater for the New City Lower East Side theater in the true tradition of the Lower East Side."

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